J. Jill Posts 3Q Loss

Quincy, MA-based women’s apparel cataloger/retailer The J. Jill Group (Nasdaq:JILL) lost $2.9 million for the quarter ended Sept. 27, a turnaround from the net income of $3.6 million it posted for the third quarter of last year.

Third-quarter net sales increased 3%, to $82.3 million from last year’s $80.0 million. Breaking it down by channel, catalog sales fell 21%, to $27.6 million from $35.0 million last year. Web sales fell 8%, to $14.2 million from $15.4 million. Retail sales, however, rose 37%—on new store openings—to $40.7 million from $29.8 million last year. Third-quarter sales productivity in the direct segment, as measured by demand per 1,000 sq. in. circulated, was down by 35%, while retail segment sales per sq. ft. declined by 4%.

J. Jill also announced that Patricia Lee has resigned as president of merchandising and product development for personal reasons. Stephen Pearson was promoted to executive vice president of merchandising and product development.

“As we have previously indicated, the tone of business since July has been very challenging for The J. Jill Group,” president/CEO Gordon Cooke said in a statement. “We attribute this primarily to infrastructure weaknesses and transition issues–with respect to both channel migration and merchandising and product development–and the impact these factors have had on our recent merchandise offerings. We are addressing these issues with ongoing efforts to improve our operating infrastructure in design, product management, sourcing, product integrity and merchandising. Among other things, we are committed to increasing the amount of color and novelty print in our offerings and improving the quality and fit of our merchandise going forward.”